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Leadership Lessons from a Family Bike Ride

This morning Craig and I got out the bikes and helmets to go on a family bike ride. Believe me, the kids would rather NOT have done this. It was an adventure, a much shorter one than I had anticipated, but an adventure nevertheless. So here are some leadership lessons:

1. When helping someone be more proficient at a new skill, scaffold the skill.

Theo will tell you that he's not great at riding bikes. Because of this, his confidence is very limited when it comes to bike riding. Theo was working on riding down the street on a new to him bike we just purchased. It was bigger than his previous bike and had hand brakes. He was identifying all the things that were going wrong and he DIDN'T want to use the hand brake for fear that he would fly over the handlebars because as a lefty his preference would be to squeeze the front break first.

When we got to the end of the street, my husband was still talking with him about going to the canal path and I said, I have an idea. Why don't the two of you practice on the street and Juliet and I will continue on our ride.

See if we had pushed Theo. It may have been a terrible experience and he might never have wanted to get on this bike again.

So when you're supporting someone who's learning or refining a new task, chunk it. Work on bits until they feel comfortable, and only then push them to the next step.

2. Be clear with your expectations.

Full disclosure Juliet is a great bike rider but we've never taught her how to ride in a line. I rode behind her and LITERALLY almost ate asphalt multiple times because she stopped suddenly in front of me without warning. I kept saying Juliet you can't do that and as I felt myself getting more annoyed I realized something. We had never TAUGHT Juliet how to ride in a line or stop in front of someone. We stopped and I said, "I'm sorry Juliet I just realized that I never taught you how to stop or use hand signals." So we had a little tutorial and things went slightly better, no more near-death experiences for this mama!

3. Go until the person is ready to stop.

When we are working with people we need to work within their comfort zone. Today Juliet wanted to ride to her friend's house which was about 2 miles away. We didn't actually get there today but we got farther than we ever had before. Instead of pushing her I said, "well we did great and next time we'll get even closer." Don't get me wrong, sometimes we do have to push, but before you do be sure they are actually ready for that next step!

4. Celebrate everyone's success

When Juliet and I returned to the house, I found Theo in his room. I said "Theo I'm very proud of you. I know that wasn't easy for you, and you tried your best and you did great." Juliet then said, "Wait a minute, you're not proud of me?" I assured her that I surely was proud of her too

In love, friendship and leadership,


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